Managing Software: A new installation of Linpus Lite 1.9 ships with all the applications that most users will need to perform their daily computing tasks, with a lot more available in the repository. Many of those applications are so-called Web Applications or Webapps, that is, applications accessed over the Internet.
Because Linpus Lite is a Fedora-based distribution, you can manage applications from the command-line using yum. And it comes with a graphical package manager called Application Center. Shown below is the main interface, with a partial list of available applications.
And this one shows a partial list of installed Web applications. A total of 34 of those are installed by default, with another 219 available in the repository or from the Chrome Web Store. A major drawback of Application Center is that it is designed for installing and managing applications with graphical user interfaces, not those that can only be run from the command-line. So if you attempt to search for, say, nmap or cups or firewalld, no results will be returned. All non-gui applications have to be installed from the command-line. So on my test installations, I was constantly switching between Application Center and the command-line when it comes to managing applications. Not very good for new users.
By default, the system is configured to check for updates daily. However, with this distribution, application and system updates don’t comes as frequently as on other distributions. For example, when I first installed a test system in early April, Firefox 12 was the version of the popular Web browser available in the repository. I had to send a support email to the company before Firefox was updated to version 20. Chromium, which is the default Web browser, is at version 23, and LibreOffice is at version 3.5.x.
Even though the system is configured to check for updates daily, there is no updates notifier like you have on other distributions. Instead, what you have is an online update widget that contains a scrolling list of available updates (at least that’s what I think they are). So unless you activate Daily Widget or launch the Application Center, you have no way of knowing when updates are available.
The thing with the online update widget is this: If the system is fully updated, it will show the message shown in this image.
On my test installations, I found that it is better to run yum update to apply available updates than to use the Application Center’s update facility. That’s because it’s much faster. Another reason is that I’m not really sure how the facility is support to work. In this screen shot, for example, you would think that clicking the Update button will apply all available updates. Not so!
Instead, you get this message in a small window. The problem is that there is no place to check each application that needs to be updated.
But when the Update button for an application is clicked, this message window pops up. Clicking Yes installs it and all other available updates. My assessment of Application Center is that it is still a work in progress. It’s not quite at the same level as Deepin‘s Software Center, which is about the best graphical application manager available on any distribution.
A final note on software: Not all Free and Open Source applications are available in the Linpus repository. For example, libdvdcss or libdvdcss2, which is used by video players to play encrypted DVD videos, is not (in the repository). However, given that Linpus is based on Fedora, you can add third-party repositories to make up for what’s not in the official Linpus repository.
Graphical Administrative Tools: Aside from one or two “missing” modules in System Settings, most of the graphical administrative applications available on this distribution are the same as those available on any GNOME 3 desktop. Some are also accessible from the System Tools and Other menu categories.
One that I’ve not come across on any other distribution that I have reviewed is called Smart Connect. The official description says that it “allows your computers to update users email, social networks frequently and automatically, even the system is asleep.” This is one feature of Linpus Lite 1.9 that I’m yet to test. If you have used it, let us know if it works as advertised.
Security Posture: From the physical security angle, Linpus Lite 1.9 has nothing to offer. No full disk, or even home directory encryption. And no boot loader password-protection during the installation phase. Based on its lack of physical security features, this is not a distribution I want to install on any computer that I use for serious stuff.
For network security, SELinux is disabled. And system-config-firewall, a graphical firewall management application is installed, though it is disabled by default. The image below shows the firewall application in its default state.
An nmap port scan result of a default installation of Linpus Lite 1.9 from an external computer is shown in this image. I did not to make too much of this, but just be aware, if you want to install this distribution, that there will be several ports open. Though there is a graphical firewall application, it only allows you to set general rules. So if you enable access to a service, for example, that service will be accessible from all networks.
To sum, Linpus Lite is one of those distributions that I’ve always hoped will be done right, considering that it is published by a commercial entity. However, with every release, it manages to fail in taking care of the little things that matter. Almost every desktop distribution suffers from the same problem. They get the big picture, but then it comes to delivering sane and sensible defaults and implementing features that a modern OS should have, they miss the mark.
Resources: You may download an installation image of Linpus Lite 1.9 from here.
Screen Shots: View a few more screen shots from my test installations of Linpus Lite 1.9.
Transition effects options of Simple Mode in System Settings.
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